Digital Games and Electronic Literature: Toward an Intersectional Analysis

 This paper examines the relationship between electronic literature, on the one hand, and computer and video games on the other. The different questions with which I would like to grapple are the following: First of all, in what ways are certain digital games becoming increasingly literary in a way that does not make them categorically superior but does place them within multiple genealogies that invite continued research? Second, what can literary scholars contribute to the growing field of digital game studies that has seen much of its strongest work, thus far, develop through methods of art history, media theory, software studies, and platform studies? Finally, what might game studies contribute to literary criticism in the twenty-first century? Rather than positing a strict definition of literary games or games as literature, or suggesting that English, Comparative Literature, or Rhetoric departments are the proper disciplinary landing spots for the future study of games, this essay explores different ways that digital games enter into fruitful exchanges with literary texts and could profit from further study by literary critics. I am interested in what we might call an intersectionality that attends to works that emerge at the boundaries or overlapping zones of the literary and the ludic. The crosspollinations between (electronic) literary texts and digital games have become more possible than ever over the last decade — a change that has to do with cultural, technological, and institutional factors alike.